Gunners Garage

Mussolini’s mistress’ Alfa takes to block in RM’s forthcoming Paris sale

Italian dictator Musolini gave this car to his mistress during World War II.

Italian dictator Mussolini gave this car to his mistress during World War II.

 

A press release from RM Auctions awakened some good memories from days past. The release concerned an Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Berlinetta by Touring that’s heading to auction with a well-documented history.

Italy’s notorious World War II dictator, Benito Mussolini once gifted this car to his lover, Claretta Petacci. The Alfa rolled off the production line in 1939 with stunning coachwork by Touring. Ms. Petacci drove it during the war. She also took her last ride in it. It was later acquired by a US army officer and shipped directly to the United States. It was rediscovered in 1970 on a farm in New York.

Our own association dates back to a trip to the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas in the mid-1980s. Writer Brock Yates of Cannonball fame and a Chrysler PR guy were driving around in a prototype minivan. They hit a concrete “car stopper” in a parking lot and it damaged the prototype minivan. They didn’t want to take such a vehicle to a regular shop, so they brought it to the Imperial Palace.

While the restorers there worked on the minivan, we went to play with cars accompanied by the two travelers and Richie Clyne, who was then manager of the Imperial Palace Auto Collection. All of us drove to a sort of a storage facility and tried to pick a collector car to go to lunch in. We had the choice of W.C. Field’s Duesenberg town car or the Alfa that had belonged to Mussolini’s gal.

Richie said, “Why don’t you drive the Alfa?” but we were reluctant to do so, as the car looked like a fresh restoration. So, we wound up going to lunch at a hero sandwich shop in a Duesenberg. And we have always wondered what it would have been like driving the gorgeous Alfa. Maybe we should fly to Paris and buy it at the RM sale.

Apparently the car has been fully and faithfully re-restored in recent years by world-renowned marque expert Francesco Bonfanti. It was honored with ‘Best in Class’ at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in 2007 and ‘Best of Show’ at the 2011 Salon Privé Concours d’Elegances. The value of the car today is estimated at €1.900.000 to €2.400.000. (On second thought, maybe we should have bought it back in the ‘80s.)

The RM auction will be held at Place Vauban in Paris, France during the world-famous Retromobile week. That takes place Feb. 3-4, 2015, so we have a little time to start saving.

 

 

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